In regions Americas and Bahamas and in group Americas

Bahamas Hurricane Dorian 2019


2020-02 Factsheet

February 2020
Damages in Abaco (source Xavier Génot-IFRC)



On 13th February, Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) called a Contractors Workshop which was attended by 35 contractors working in Freeport and surrounding Grand Bahama, 10 humanitarian agency staff, 5 GBPA building department staff, and the IFRC Shelter Sector coordination team. The GBPA Buildings Manager presented the GBPA Building Back Better (BBB) guidance version 1.0, and the Shelter Sector Technical Coordinator facilitated a 1 hour workshop to discuss the interim BBB messages produced by the sector. The purpose of this was for the Contractors to engage with the material, and identify the BBB suggested measures that would be impactful, and can be undertaken with ease and affordability. The discussion led to some new ideas, broadly validated the partners ranking of the messages, and sparked significant interest in BBB measures.



Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019. The Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), established in the Bahamas under the Disaster Reconstruction Act 2019, designed The Small Home Repair Program (SHRP) to facilitate the reconstruction and restoration of these areas. The program allows qualifying Bahamian homeowners to use purchase orders to obtain materials and other items related to home restoration.


The criteria for participating in the SHRP is as follows

- Is a citizen of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

- Owns the property.

- Lived at the damaged property on August 31st; confirmed by utility bill or other acceptable verification.

- Did not have insurance for the damage to the property.

- Property must be located on Grand Bahama, Abaco and the associated cays.

- The assistance can be for labour, material or both; based on Ministry of Public Works, or Grand Bahama Port Authority.

- Only Authority approved vendors for materials.

- Tradesmen used for repairs would need to be approved under the program


There are four categories for which purchase orders will be granted. Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage will be eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed will be eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders. The Authority will initially disburse 50 percent of the purchase orders to qualifying applicants. An inspector will then check and ensure the purchase order was spent on the home. Once that is confirmed the remaining 50 percent would be disbursed. The office was opened in Grand Bahama on February 10th, in Abaco on February 17th, and Nassau on February 24th.


As per February 25th, already 2,589 users were registered through the online platform

Coverage against targets

Need analysis

On September 1st 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit Northern Bahamas on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, reaching

Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It beat several historical records as the strongest Atlantic hurricane documented to directly impact land mass.

It is estimated that 29,472 persons and 9,000 homes were affected. Damage to the housing sector is estimated at $1.48 billion BSD, 88.9 percent of which took place on Abaco.

The official death count is 71 casualties, with 282 persons still missing. It is estimated that 15,000 people were in need of food or shelter, with 5,000 people evacuated to Nassau, New Providence.


The response to Hurricane Dorian’s impact is led by the Government of the Bahamas, for emergency through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and in coordination with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). NEMA has established its Emergency Support Functions (ESF) humanitarian coordination structure, composed of 15 ESFs with their own lead ministries or departments to align response sectors between relevant stakeholders. Although the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster approach was not officially activated, coordination between humanitarian partners was established upon the request of the Government of The Bahamas. The IFRC, on behalf of the Global Shelter Cluster, as chair of the REDLAC Shelter Working Group and on request of NEMA, has deployed a Shelter Coordination Team to support existing coordination mechanisms and Bahamas Shelter Sector (BSS).

From December 3rd the coordination of the response was transferred from NEMA to the new Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), that defined 7 recovery priorities and 11 projects, including 2 regarding shelter and housing.

As of February 18th, it is estimated that more than 4,900 households have received emergency shelter items. Partners have ongoing and planned activities for rental assistance to more than 535 households and early recovery support through homes mucking/gutting, mould remediation, or repairs for up to 2,868 housing units.

The Bahamas Shelter Sector partners will continue to provide shelter assistance under 3 strategic priorities (1) enabling access to temporary accommodation, (2) restoring permanent housing options, & (3) providing building back better technical assistance.

The main priority and current focus of the response is on repairing the maximum number of houses with non-structural damage before the next hurricane season due to commence in June.

Gaps / challenges

Some affected people from Abaco and Grand Bahama were evacuated to New Providence, with up to 2,000 sheltered in collective centers. Only few hundreds remain there, but without clear options to move back to their pre-Dorian communities.

House reconstruction in the Bahamas can be very expensive (upwards of 70,000 USD for a small 2 bedroom house). While government and partners are starting to repair houses with minor damage, there is no current capacity identified to rebuild at scale destroyed homes or houses with structural damage.

Due to the unprecedented scale of disaster impact for the Bahamas, building damage assessments have still to be completed and to be overlaid with social economic assessment data, in order to fully allow gap analysis for the recovery response moving forward.

Most of the houses damaged and destruction came from non-compliance with the Bahamas building codes and from the significant tidal surge flooding. Building Back Better, technical assistance and quality control for enhanced  building code compliance has to be enhanced to reinforce resilience of Bahamian affected communities in a future of more frequent climate-change induced hurricanes.